Updated: Sep 28, 2020
So What Is Arameth, Exactly?
(A follow-up to “Discovering Arameth: What I Learned from Building My First Fantasy World“)
(This post is a continuation of the Guest Post I wrote for Jenelle Schmidt’s “February is Fantasy Month” blog series. You can check out Part I of the post here or at the link above. Be sure to also check out the other “February is Fantasy Month” posts while you’re there!)
A dark force terrorizes Arameth, and those out to stop it have a serious problem: their prophesied hero is dead.
— Blurb excerpt from The Edge of Nothing, book 1 of The Lex Chronicles (Legends of Arameth)— Blurb excerpt from The Edge of Nothing, book 1 of The Lex Chronicles (Legends of Arameth)
We’re here to talk about worldbuilding, and my journey from endless notes and maps and planning to something concrete and tangible and publishable.
To that end, here is a brief tour of Arameth, to show you what emerged from this world and how it all came together.
Arameth is a world best explained by experiencing the story, however, there are a few key things which make Arameth, well, Arameth:
1. The Map
When I first began worldbuilding for Arameth, I was at a loss for where to begin. I knew that many fantasy authors had maps of their worlds, so I thought, why not start there? I created the actual map and the history/background for Arameth simultaneously, using the map as a guide to keep track of how my worldbuilding was progressing. I felt like I was drawing things into the map aribitrarily, but oddly enough, when I looked back at the map years later, it had exactly what I needed to finish fleshing out my story and its world. Huh.
Here’s my initial version of the map from 2005:
And here’s the updated version, included in The Edge of Nothing (The Lex Chronicles, Book 1) in 2018. (Part of it is intentionally blurred, but I’ll explain that in a moment):
The storyline of the trilogy naturally progresses through different physical locations in the Arameth world. I decided to reveal the map a little more at the start of each book, so that the readers are discovering the world alongside the characters. By Book 3, the full map is included:
As I wrote the drafts of The Lex Chronicles in 2017-2018, many things changed about my story world, but the map scarcely changed. The locations just took on deeper significance as I clarified my characters and plot, and the map itself became a huge element of how I plotted and planned the stories.
2. The Worldforce
Arameth is both surrounded by and infused with The Worldforce, a massive, unseen network of energetic, electrical pathways which functions similar to neurons in the brain. In Arameth, everything is connected, because everything touches the Worldforce.
For many of the characters and groups of people in my world, this basic knowledge is as far as it goes; however, there are some cultures which have found a deeper connection to the Worldforce, a way in which it communicates with them… and they have discovered something not everyone in Arameth knows –- the Worldforce is not simply an atmospheric reality for Arameth, it is something more… and it is conscious.
The Worldforce has secrets of its own, but I don’t want to spoil them here. Instead, I’ll just say that this is probably the single most important aspect of my Arameth worldbuilding… but it didn’t come to me until wayyy further in the process, when I realized my frantic, barely coherent NaNoWriMo attempt from 2016 could be another version of the Arameth world I’d created all the way back in 2005. *Mind blown.* It wasn’t until I merged timelines, characters, and worlds that everything clicked into place… and Legends of Arameth was born.
3. The Symbols
Each book in the trilogy has a unique symbol on its cover, and the three symbols combine to make a joined symbol, which is on the spines of all three paperbacks as a symbol for the overall series:
My husband drew these symbols as a mock-up concept when he was making my covers (he is a graphic designer and marketer), and I loved them. The more I thought about them, the more I realized that they could easily become an important element to my story. I replanned the way my books broke down to fit with this new symbolic concept, then went back and worked in the symbols as an important element of the story in the first book (which I’d already begun drafting). However, even I didn’t understand the full depth of the symbols until I got further into the series, when some new ideas came to me about how to connect everything. The symbols ended up being very important to the larger story of The Lex Chronicles—their role in the series is one of those things that, had I thought it all up ahead of time, would make me feel quite smart. Ha.
4. The Creatures
Barring some extreme environment not conducive to life, all worlds have creatures. The creatures in Arameth all emerged from the needs of the world and/or my needs for the story. I used to feel like this made some of them seem arbitrary or even like I was a bit of a “sell out” for planting things in the world simply to achieve certain effects or for plot purposes. But… I’m over that now. I mean, what worldbuilding aspect isn’t there for some kind of purpose, even if it’s just because I totally liked the vibe a particular creature idea was giving off in that moment? (Why do I have creepy lizard-bats? … Because Reasons.)
Arameth has a lot of creepy creatures, to be honest, and I don’t quite know what that says about me. (I’m not a creepy person, I promise!) But there are some less-creepy ones, too. The creepy creatures serve a purpose—usually to highlight danger or the heightened darkness of a world-not-yet-saved — and then, of course, I have my characters save it… or at least attempt to.
The balance always tips on the side of hope in the end, for my worlds and stories, but I don’t shy from allowing my characters to experience danger and struggle, because that makes hope shine all the brighter in contrast.
Arameth, when my heroes first emerge in it, is a corrupted version of what it once was… a world darkened by evil but still infused with glimmers of goodness and still very much worth saving. The creatures reflect that contrast and help to establish it in the story.
There are many creatures in Arameth, but here are some of the more prominent ones, along with what purpose they serve and/or how they came to exist in my story world: